Part of Vancouver’s Green Streets program? These tips are for you.
Gardening at home, with easy access to seeds, tools, and water? Easy. Gardening several blocks from home? A bit more work. Gardening several blocks from home when you don’t have a car and your garden doesn’t have a tap? Call me lazy, but that sounds like a lot of work.
Having gardened at several locations not actually at my residence, I’ve become familiar with having to carry tools, seeds, and water to my various “away” gardens, and I thought I’d share a few tips to make it easier for you.
1. When looking for a community garden to join or a yard to share, think about how convenient its location is. In the summer, you’ll need to visit your plot almost daily, so make sure it’s close to home or on your route, otherwise, you may find yourself resenting or neglecting your plot. Guerrilla gardens, which usually have little or no available resources (such as water access or shared tools), can be even harder to maintain, so at least make getting there easy.
2. Invest in an all-purpose hand tool. The two most common garden tasks are planting seed(ling)s and weeding. You want a tool that can do both, eliminating the need to carry multiple tools. I like the CobraHead (buy it here). Of course, for larger jobs, you’ll still need heavy duty tools, but for everyday jobs, something like the CobraHead does just the trick.
3. Package all your seeds together, so that they’re ready to grab and go. This is especially handy when you’ve got more than one away garden. I use resealable sandwich bags labelled “community garden,” “balcony,” “patio,” and “townhouse bed” to keep the seeds for my various gardens separate and easy to find.
4. Consider keeping a portable garden kit handy, containing your tools, seeds, gloves, a jug of water, and other necessities. Just grab and go.
5. If there’s no water source available at your garden (which is pretty common for guerrilla gardens), save water in large, empty plastic bottles, such as a 2- or 4L (qt) milk jug with a handle. Punch several holes in the lid to act as a convenient watering can if you don’t plan on carrying the jugs in a backpack. Wagons and bike trailers or carriers are good for transporting large amounts of water without a car.
6. Consider sharing the work (and fun!) with a friend. Take shifts, or set up a watering schedule.
7. Plant lower-maintenance edibles such as perennial veggies, potatoes, and herbs, so your harvest won’t be a wash-out if you can’t visit your garden for a week.
Have any great tips for “away” gardening? Share them in the comments!